Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

★★★★

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Edge of Tomorrow PosterDirector: Doug Liman

Release Date: May 30th, 2014 (UK); June 6th, 2014 (US)

Genre: Action; Science-fiction

Starring: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt

The key to any film baring a looped narrative is the provision of compelling characters. Or, at the very least, engaging performances. Bill Murray in Groundhog Day and Jake Gyllenhaal in Source Code, for instance. Two aptly mentioned films each of which share an obvious connection with Edge of Tomorrow, Doug Liman’s newest creation that sees the former’s witty humour and the latter’s pulsating mystery combine with a Vantage Point-esque tactical retreading to devise a two hour thrill ride. Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt energetically shepherd proceedings through any potentially damaging plot miscues, coming out the other side battle-worn but not out-battled. The jigsaw doesn’t quite fit together with uniform perfection but assembling it is pretty damn fun. In fact, this might be Tom Cruise’s best outing in a decade.

Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) awakens in familiar surroundings: an army barracks at Heathrow Airport, the word “maggot” ringing in his ear. It’s the near future and Earth is under attack. Aliens known as ‘Mimics’ — experts in adapting to combat human strategy — lead the invasion, and Cage’s interaction with one of the beasts has sent him spiralling into a time loop. A glorified military advertiser, the Major must train both body and mind with the aid of war machine Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt) in order to quell the fighting and save humankind.

Edge of Tomorrow presents an often pondered scenario, then repeats until fluency reigns. If you were to throw a pebble into a river, would the water change course forever or eventually restore its old pathway? In this case, we swap pebble for soldier and water for war. There’s no grand idea to ponder, at least not a new one, but sometimes sticking with a winning formula ushers forth success and Liman’s film proves that. What the director does infuse, if not originality, is vitality; a freshness that cleanses with bounce and intrigue upon repetition. We watch as Cage lives out the same day countless times over, yet there’s never a sense that what we’re seeing is merely bland duplication. Quite the opposite actually. For every familiar bellow from Master Sergeant Farrell there’s a modicum of change. A card game hidden under bedsheets, for instance. Smartly, sameness becomes a weapon for both Cage and the viewer: he, attempting to win a war, and us, trying to put the puzzle pieces together. Every time he dies, we start over. Undeniably, there’s a method to the litany. (“An enemy that knows the future can’t lose.”)

The way the narrative plays out is akin to that of a video game. There’s a peculiar humour that comes with the frustration of being unable to bypass a certain stage, a mental headache that, once you finally advance to the next level, beckons in excitement. What’ll happen next? This is the sort of mind-jogging that Christopher McQuarrie’s screenplay dazzles with, and it’s sort of infectious. “What do we do now?” asks Rita. “I don’t know, we never got this far,” replies Cage with sparkling glee, the audience almost expecting him to follow up with a knowing wink in the camera’s direction.

The pair driving proceedings are having as good a time as any, which helps. Both Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt get stuck in, be it whilst careering through a mass of monstrous treachery or delivering gags with precise timing and just as much effort. The camera stalks Cruise throughout the entire film yet we never tire of seeing his face — admittedly, it is rather amusing watching the Hollywood star’s reactions as he perishes in a variety of ways. Blunt chalks in another talent-affirming performance as the ironclad Full Metal Bitch, getting the better of her co-star more often than not. It’s also worth noting Bill Paxton’s hammed up turn as the aforementioned Farrell, his numerous communications with Cruise increasing in hilarity as time progresses.

Quite surprisingly, Edge of Tomorrow detours down comedy alley a whole lot, hitting more than its fair share of home-runs. There are a number of intense battle scenes that are harsher in meaning than actual visual depiction, but these are balanced out by smatterings of light relief. James Herbert and Laura Jenning’s rapid editorial input comes in handy here, ensuring that there are never any lulls: while we’ve only just let out a guffaw at Cage’s prophetic qualities, the film is on to the next optical spectacle or witty bantering. Cruise and Blunt conjure up a dynamic that not only feels authentic, but that also sparks with comic prowess. The whole thing is quite ridiculous in a way and the film acknowledges so. Since it doesn’t take itself too seriously, we can relax and let the occasional disbelief slide. Playfulness supersedes sternness, and it’s for the best.

That’s not to say Edge of Tomorrow is bulletproof, because it ain’t. The plot teeters along a knife edge at times, hampered by its mass and volume. There’s a lot to take in and not all of it immediately makes sense, such as how easy it is to become encased within a time loop. (Not to mention Rita’s relationship with the concept — she could re-enter the groundhog procedure at any point, surely.) State of the art combat suits are developed to give humans a greater fighting chance against the aliens, yet these technologically superior battle weapons are juiced by batteries. There must not be any electric motor charging sockets around future London. Finger out, Boris.

Doug Liman’s track record since The Bourne Identity is sketchy at best, but this offering is a sure-fire career reviver. His direction is more or less spot on, striving for humour rather than overbearing solemnity. The film’s leading duo deliver on numerous fronts, injecting a fresh lease of life when necessary. The periphery can be a tad rough at times but Edge of Tomorrow will most certainly claim a lofty spot atop a vast amount of summer success lists, at least for the foreseeable future.

Edge of Tomorrow - Cruise and Blunt

Images credit: IMP Awards, Collider

Images copyright (©): Warner Bros.

Author: Adam (Consumed by Film)

I'll be at the cinema if you need me.

23 thoughts on “Edge of Tomorrow (2014)”

  1. Excellent review Adam, the videogame comparison is great. It makes me think about times my controller battery has died in the middle of a game and I’ve panicked. Just like when Cage’s suit runs out of juice!

  2. Terrific review sir, oh man I just can’t wait to see this now! I was fully expecting to actually give it a miss since it first appeared to be nothing more than one of those cookie-cutter action flicks Cruise is obligated to carry every two or three years. By the sounds of it, Doug Liman has caught on to the trend and thrown in a wrench, and it also sounds like it has paid off

    1. I was in the same boat Tom. Was intrigued by the first trailer, but ultimately assumed it would just another decent sci-fi attempt. I think it’s more than that, and is actually one of the funniest films of the year! Excellent all round. Thanks mate!

  3. Nice review. I enjoyed the film, even if it’s no masterpiece. I am loving the idea that Boris is at fault. The mayor needs to get those electricity chargers installed to ward off this kind of thing.

  4. Great review Adam, I immediately think of Source Code when I saw the trailer. I initially wasn’t interested in this, as it looks like another Tom Cruise action flick. But after reading all the positive reviews, I’m curious enough to see it this weekend!

    1. Spot on with the Source Code comparison, it is very reminiscent. Glad to hear EoT has caught your attention, hopefully it works as well for you as it does for me! Thanks Ruth.

  5. Nice review man! I’m seeing it tomorrow night – can’t wait. Loved the videogame comparison. I just thought of Groundhog Day when I saw the trailer, but that certainly seems way more relevant! Nice to hear so many positive things about it.

  6. Loving the positive vibes this film is giving off! I was skeptical about it at first, especially after Oblivion but it seems like Cruise is back on track. Good read, thanks for the recommendation.

    1. I was a tad wary too Dan, but it stepped up to the plate and delivered for me! Oblivion was a bit of a mess, but this one – if nothing else – is damn funny and entertaining. Cheers mate!

  7. Excellent review, Adam. I enjoyed this one a heck of a lot more than I ever expected to, given the fairly bland previews. I ended up giving it a B+, but I honestly think I would’ve marked it up to an A- if it hadn’t been for that ending…What did you think of it?

    1. Me too! I’ve actually seen the film twice now, and the first time I didn’t like the ending that much. It felt a bit rushed and not very fulfilling. Upon second viewing it still doesn’t make any sense, but I do think it serves its purpose. Just about!

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